When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

  • Title:  When We Were Worthy
  • Author:  Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  264
  • Published:  September 2017 – Lake Union Publishing
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  A win brought them together, but loss may tear them apart.

When the sound of sirens cuts through a cool fall night, the small town of Worthy, Georgia, hurtles from triumph to tragedy. Just hours before, they’d watched the Wildcats score a winning touchdown. Now, they’re faced with the deaths of three cheerleaders—their promising lives cut short in a fatal crash. And the boy in the other car—the only one to survive—is believed to be at fault. As rumors begin to fly and accusations spin, allegiances form and long-kept secrets emerge.

At the center of the whirlwind are four women, each grappling with loss, regret, shame, and lies: Marglyn, a grieving mother; Darcy, whose son had been behind the wheel; Ava, a substitute teacher with a scandalous secret; and Leah, a cheerleader who should have been in the car with her friends, but wasn’t. If the truth comes out, will it bring redemption—or will it be their downfall? (publisher)

My take:  It’s small town America on an autumn Friday night and the people of Worthy, Georgia are set to cheer on their high school football team. No one expects the tragic event that followed the game – an event that will affect more than those directly involved. When We Were Worthy is the story of the people left behind to grapple with what happened. And boy do they have a lot to deal with. Parents, students, and teachers all have questions that might never be answered – unless they are willing to face the truth. As a parent and as someone who went to a small town high school where football was the Friday night entertainment there was a lot to relate to in this novel. I found the plot riveting and loved how Marybeth Mayhew Whalen developed her characters via the short chapters. I especially loved the Emily Dickinson references that were interspersed throughout the novel. Recommended to fans of contemporary fiction.


Praise for When We Were Worthy:

When We Were Worthy is a startlingly clear look at life in a small town where the carefully crafted characters are neither heroes nor villains—they are simply real people wedged into an unimaginable situation. Heart-wrenching and vivid, this is a beautifully written novel about letting go and holding on, of family, of love, and, ultimately, of forgiveness.” —Karen White, New York Times bestselling author

When We Were Worthy is a poignant, haunting story of truths and secrets—the power of tragedy to unravel an entire community, and then stitch it back together—I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.” —Amber Smith, New York Times bestselling author of The Way I Used to Be

“Not everyone who lives in Worthy, Georgia lives up to the name. In When We Were Worthy, Marybeth Mayhew Whalen explores the spectrum of guilt and innocence in one small town after the tenuous connections between neighbors and friends are tested by a horrific accident. Told in alternating voices, this compulsively captivating novel weaves a tapestry of wrenching grief, love, anger, danger, and, eventually, hope.” —Ella Joy Olsen, author of Root, Petal, Thorn and Where the Sweet Bird Sings

“Fans of Lianne Moriarty and Jodi Picoult—this is an author for your favorites shelf. Marybeth Mayhew Whalen’s taut, smart novel is a natural-born page-turner that doesn’t sacrifice depth of feeling or character. Whalen knows this town, these people, and she lays them open for us with razor-sharp insight, wit, and empathy. Don’t miss this one.” —Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of Gods in Alabama and The Almost Sisters

“What do you do when your whole life is turned around, crushed, and destroyed? Do you rise above it? Do you seek revenge? Do you run away? Do you blame yourself? When We Were Worthy is a brilliant, gripping novel that challenges the fabric of who we think we are, a story that speaks to both the fragility and strength of the human spirit in the wake of tragedy. I highly, highly recommend this novel!” —Joy Callaway, author of The Fifth Avenue Artists Society and Secret Sisters


 

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Working Fire by Emily Bleeker

  • Title:  Working Fire
  • Author:  Emily Bleeker
  • Genre:  Thriller
  • Pages:  320
  • Published:  August 2017 – Lake Union Publishing
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Ellie Brown thought she’d finally escaped her stifling hometown of Broadlands, Illinois; med school was supposed to be her ticket out. But when her father has a stroke, she must return home to share his care with her older sister, Amelia, who’s busy with her own family. Working as a paramedic, Ellie’s days are monotonous, driving an ambulance through streets she’d hoped never to see again.

Until a 911 dispatch changes everything. The address: her sister’s house. Rushing to the scene, Ellie discovers that Amelia and her husband, Steve, have been shot in a home invasion. After Amelia is rushed to the hospital, Ellie tries to make sense of the tragedy. But what really happened inside her sister’s house becomes less and less clear. As Amelia hangs on in critical condition, Ellie uncovers dark revelations about her family’s past that challenge her beliefs about those closest to her…and force her to question where her devotions truly lie. (publisher)

My take:  Working Fire is the story of Ellie and Amelia, two sisters who live in the same small town where they grew up and share taking care of their father. Amelia is married and the mother of two young daughters. Ellie is single and works as a paramedic, having left medical school to help care for her former fire chief dad when he had a stroke. The sisters are very close and would do anything for each other. Ellie worships Amelia and her husband and their daughters. Amelia is a harried mom trying to keep everything going in her family. There’s a stress that’s growing in her marriage making her uncomfortable but not enough to share those thoughts with anyone, including her sister. How will she manage when she discovers what exactly is at the root of the stress. Working Fire is told from the two sisters’ perspectives – one from a current perspective and the other is a few weeks previous. That helped to reveal the story and how events played out in a way that kept me turning the pages. I enjoyed that aspect and yet felt rather ambivalent about the last few pages. I’m wondering if there could be a sequel planned. Or maybe it’s just how real life is for the rest of us – not neatly wrapped up. I look forward to reading more from Emily Bleeker.


About the author:

Emily Bleeker is a former educator who learned to love writing while teaching a writer’s workshop. After surviving a battle with a rare form of cancer, she finally found the courage to share her stories, starting with her debut novel, Wreckage, followed by the Wall Street Journal bestseller When I’m Gone. Emily currently lives with her family in suburban Chicago. Connect with her or request a Skype visit with your book club at http://www.emilybleeker.com.


 

Spotlight/US Giveaway: The End of Temperance Dare by Wendy Webb

About:  Haunting and atmospheric, The End of Temperance Dare is another thrilling page-turner from the author reviewers are calling the Queen of the Northern Gothic.

When Eleanor Harper becomes the director of a renowned artists’ retreat, she knows nothing of Cliffside Manor’s dark past as a tuberculosis sanatorium, a “waiting room for death.” After years of covering murder and violence as a crime reporter, Eleanor hopes that being around artists and writers in this new job will be a peaceful retreat for her as much as for them.

But from her first fog-filled moments on the manor’s grounds, Eleanor is seized by a sense of impending doom and realizes there’s more to the institution than its reputation of being a haven for creativity. After the arrival of the new fellows―including the intriguing, handsome photographer Richard Banks―she begins to suspect that her predecessor chose the group with a dangerous purpose in mind. As the chilling mysteries of Cliffside Manor unravel and the eerie sins of the past are exposed, Eleanor must fight to save the fellows—and herself—from sinister forces. (publisher)


Praise for THE END OF TEMPERANCE DARE:

“[In] this solid supernatural thriller…Webb succeeds in escalating suspense while keeping her story grounded, but goes full-on Exorcist for the finale.” Publishers Weekly

“Webb’s (The Vanishing, 2014) fourth novel is a high-energy ride peppered with just the right amount of romance seeking, coffee drinking, and wine sipping.” Booklist

“Wendy Webb is a pro at providing all the trappings of a good Gothic mystery.…A fun read.” —Criminal Element

“Chilling…” Gumshoe Review


About the author:  Wendy Webb knew from the minute she read A Wrinkle in Time at age eleven that she was destined to be a writer. After two decades as a journalist, writing for varied publications including USA Today, the Huffington Post, the Star Tribune, Midwest Living, and others, Wendy wrote her first novel, The Tale of Halcyon Crane. When it won the 2011 Minnesota Book Award for genre fiction, she started writing fiction full-time. Her second and third novels, The Fate of Mercy Alban and The Vanishing, established her as a leading suspense novelist, who reviewers are calling the Queen of the Northern Gothic. She lives in Minneapolis with her part-time dog, Zeus, and is at work on her next novel. Visit her online at http://www.wendykwebb.com and on Facebook and Instagram as wendywebbauthor.


US Giveaway

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Giveaway ends on August 16, 2017


Everything We Left Behind by Kerry Lonsdale; US Giveaway: Everything We Keep

  • Title:  Everything We Left Behind
  • Series:  Everything We Keep #2
  • Author:  Kerry Lonsdale
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction; Suspense
  • Pages:  348
  • Published:  July 2017 – Lake Union Publishing

Description:  Two months before his wedding, financial executive James Donato chased his trade-laundering brother Phil to Mexico, only to be lost at sea and presumed dead. Six and a half years later, he emerges from a dissociative fugue state to find he’s been living in Oaxaca as artist Carlos Dominguez, widower and father of two sons, with his sister-in-law Natalya Hayes, a retired professional surfer, helping to keep his life afloat. But his fiancée, Aimee Tierney, the love of his life, has moved on. She’s married and has a child of her own.

Devastated, James and his sons return to California. But Phil is scheduled for release from prison, and he’s determined to find James, who witnessed something in Mexico that could land Phil back in confinement. Under mounting family pressure, James flees with his sons to Kauai, seeking refuge with Natalya. As James begins to unravel the mystery of his fractured identity, danger is never far behind, and Natalya may be the only person he can trust.

My take:  I enjoyed Everything We Keep – book 1 in the series so I was excited to read  Everything We Left Behind. Book 2 picks up where the first left off so I recommend reading in order. In the new book Kerry Lonsdale gives readers James’ perspective of the events that changed his life. It’s an intriguing story that involves family dysfunction, criminal activities, and the unimaginable fall-out one man will be forced to confront. The chapters alternate between present day and several years earlier which allows James’ story to develop fully. I liked this novel a lot and look forward to Everything We Give – in summer 2018.


About the author:

Kerry Lonsdale is the Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon Kindle bestselling author of Everything We Keep and All the Breaking Waves. She resides in Northern California with her husband and two children. Learn more about Kerry at http://www.kerrylonsdale.com.


US Giveaway of Book 1: Everything We Keep

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Giveaway ends on July 31, 2017


One Wrong Turn by Deanna Lynn Sletten

  • Title:  One Wrong Turn
  • Author:  Deanna Lynn Sletten
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  204
  • Published:  June 2017 – Lake Union Publishing
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

My take:  One Wrong Turn by Deanna Lynn Sletten is the story of Clay and Jess. They met, fell in love, married and had two daughters. Life didn’t continue that smoothly though. Clay made a wrong turn and fell into the grip of alcohol, just as his own father had. Jess never faltered in her love for him as he went into rehab time after time. Her vow of “for better or for worse” truly meant something to her. When she could no longer remain stagnant in his decisions she finally made her own decision to protect herself and their daughters. Fast-forward to a couple of years later. Jess was getting ready to open a B&B and while running errands one day is involved in a car accident. Life changed for everyone. Clay, gone from his daughters’ lives for two years, must step up and handle things. Can he ever make his family whole again? One Wrong Turn is a heartfelt story of redemption, second chances, and never giving up. Recommend to fans of novels about family drama.


About the author:

Author Deanna Lynn Sletten believes in fate, love at first sight, soul mates, second chances, and happily ever after. When she initially started writing women’s fiction and romance, she decided to self-publish her first three novels. Since then, she has published twelve books—including Finding Libbie, her second book with Lake Union Publishing. She lives in a small town in northern Minnesota and is married with two grown children. When she’s not writing, she enjoys relaxing in a boat on the lake and walking the wooded trails around her home with her beautiful Australian shepherd.

Her blog: www.deannalynnsletten.com
Twitter: @DeannaLSletten
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DeannaLynnSletten